CinemaCon: Disney Previews The Lone Ranger

Day three of CinemaCon began this morning with a preview of the upcoming slate from The Walt Disney Studios, a name given for the combined output from Pixar, Lucasfilm, Marvel Studios, DreamWorks, Disney Animation and Disney proper.

Although they were notably excited about Marvel’s next set of releases (which this year includes Iron Man 3 on May 3 and Thor: The Dark World on November 8), new footage was limited to just a few quick shots in an opening studio-wide sizzle reel. Shots from the latter include flashes of Thor doing battle and Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster in Asgard (and apparently wearing some kind of metal armor).

The big focus of the panel was Gore Verbinski’s The Lone Ranger which, in addition to the just-released trailer, revealed two lengthy scenes introduced by Verbinski, Jerry Bruckheimer and leading men Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp.

The first scene begins with Hammer’s John Reid returning from law school to his hometown of Colby, Texas. He’s found himself caught up in a train jailbreak of the recently-apprehended outlaw Butch Cavendish. Depp’s Tonto is also on the train, seeking vengeance against Cavendish for something he did 26 years earlier. Whatever Tonto tried to do, Reid accidentally messed everything up and we open with both men on top of the train chained to one another.

The train rapidly running out of track, Tonto says that they should jump, but Reid refuses. He says he wants to save the passengers.

One of Cavendish’s men show up, pulling a gun on both men. Reid instantly surrenders, but Tonto has a plan. He sees a mail hook and, as they pass it, Reid swings the chain around it. Reid and Tonto go swinging and Tonto wraps his legs around the villain, scooping him up and then letting him go, smashing right through the train window and out the other side.

Another man arrives and pulls a gun, but suddenly something wraps around his leg. It’s a whip and we see a group of Texas Rangers riding in on horseback. Among them is James Badge Dale’s Dan Reid, John’s brother. They assist John and Tonto and move up to the front of the train, attempting to disconnect the engine from the rest of the cars. Unfortunately, it’s jammed and Tonto goes down beneath the car and separates the cable from there.

It works, sort of. The passengers are saved, but the engine is still going with John and Tonto aboard and the track has just run out. There’s a massive crash as the train leaves the track, careening on its side into the desert. Our heroes fly through the air, rolling across the ground and finally coming to a rest. The engine is a different story, however, and an enormous piece of metal pops off, landing directly between Tonto and John (and cutting the chain that holds them). The engine’s still moving, though, but just as it looks like it’s going to crush them, the piece of metal winds up holding it back.

Tonto gets up and starts to walk away, but John tries to arrest him. Tonto just flips him over his shoulders when John tries to grab him, but ultimately surrenders when the rest of the Texas Rangers ride in.

“What’s your crime, boy?” Dan Reid asks.

“Indian,” says Tonto.

Finally in Colby, John has cleaned himself up and is at the jail where Tonto is being held. Ruth Wilson’s Rebecca Reid shows up, worried about John. They used to be in love, but haven’t talked in eight years. She’s now married to Dan and has a young son with him. She doesn’t seem to happy, either, noting that Dan is always away fighting for the law in Indian territory.

Tonto, meanwhile, sits in his prison cell and begins some sort of prayer as his shadow (complete with the crow headpiece) grows across the wall.

Outside, John meets up with Dan and tells him that Tonto deserves a fair trial. Dan doesn’t care too much for due process and says that he’s riding off to bring in Cavendish. He wants John to come along and hands him a silver badge. Turning it over, John realizes that it belonged to their father.

Out in the open desert, the Rangers ride. John is wearing a big white hat and the others make fun of him for it. Out in the distance, he spots a white horse standing on the edge of a cliff. Dan tells him that the horse is an Indian legend and is called a spirit horse.

The next scene jumps forward a bit to John waking up. He looks dirty and beaten and is covered with Indian facepaint. Pulling back, we realize that he’s on top of a rickety wooden tower that itself is placed on the top of a steep butte.

Climbing down (without shoes), John finds an abandoned campsite and the bloody badges of the Rangers. Not far away, Tonto is staring into the eyes of the Spirit horse.

“I cannot decide whether this horse is stupid or pretending to be stupid,” Tonto says.

“Why am I covered in dirt?” John asks.

“Because I buried you,” Tonto responds.

Tonto tells John that the horse is telling him that John is a spirit walker and cannot be killed in battle.

“Horse definitely stupid,” Tonto says.

Later, both men sit around a campfire and, all around them, rabbits begin to gather. Tonto tells John that Cavendish is an evil spirit called a Wendigo and that his very presence is messing with the fabric of nature. He cuts a peace of meat from the fire’s spit and tosses it to the rabbits. They suddenly bare fangs and tear it to pieces.

Tonto gives John a mask, cut from his brother’s clothing. He tells him that the eye holes are cut from around the bullets that killed Dan and, now that everyone thinks John is dead, it’s best he wears a disguise. Eight rangers set out and Tonto only dug seven graves, meaning one of them is a traitor.

At one point, John is frustrated and Tonto slaps him in the face.

“Bird angry,” he deadpans, pointing to the crow on his head.

The pair decide to set out, teaming up to avenge Dan’s death.

“Justice is what I seek, Kemosabe,” Tonto says as the scene ends.